*Editor's Note: Each Thursday leading into the NFL games, contributing writer Jonathan Auping will break down a few things to consider as fantasy owners set their weekly lineups, including players to start or sit, along with trends to remember. Whether your game is the traditional fantasy league or the daily games from DraftKings, this weekly feature should help you get prepared for the fantasy weekend. *
Make the Smart Plays:
Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars, (DraftKings Salary $3,400)
Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings (DraftKings Salary $3,500)
These two goal line vultures might not even lead their team in carries on Sunday, but they can affect your entire fantasy outcome by getting in the end zone. I wouldn't advise playing both of them considering their relatively low ceilings, but you can get away with starting one, which would afford you the luxury of pairing him with one of the pricier running back options. Both of these guys are bound to get the ball when their team has it within their opponents' five-yard line
Ivory is playing an Oakland defense that gives up a ton of rushing yards and a ton of points. This is the cheapest he's been all season, despite entering perhaps his most favorable matchup. Asiata is more of a threat as a receiver. He played in 45 percent of the Vikings' offensive snaps in Week 5 before their bye, which means Minnesota is becoming more comfortable that they can win with Asiata playing a big role.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills, (DraftKings Salary $7,600)
If you take my advice and grab a cheap running back like Ivory or Asiata, you'll be able to comfortably afford McCoy who has been outdoing himself every week with dominant offensive games.
In 2011, LeSean McCoy was probably the most dangerous playmaker in the NFL. He scored 20 total touchdowns that season, finding the end zone in 13 out of 15 games. He might be an even greater touchdown threat this season. He has seven touchdowns through six games. He is the focal point of a Bills offense that is confident and in stride. Rex Ryan is successfully running the Wild Cat offense like he didn't get the memo five years ago that it was just a passing fad. Against an uninspiring Dolphins defense, McCoy's floor in Week 7 feels like a top-eight running back performance.
To put it another way: You can't draft Ezekiel Elliott this week. I think you'll be just as satisfied with McCoy.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons, (DraftKings Salary $7,200)
Everyone is always eager to label the early season's surprise top quarterback as fool's good if they aren't one of the usual suspects. But through six weeks Ryan has passed every test imaginable and has been the best fantasy quarterback in the league. The past two weeks he's faced the third and sixth ranked passing defenses in Seattle and Denver. He more than held his own by putting up big fantasy numbers in a near comeback against the Seahawks. His numbers against Denver were modest, but he avoided any major mistakes.
He's likely looking forward to a much less challenging matchup when he gets to play San Diego at home this week. The Chargers have allowed more passing touchdowns this season than the Broncos and Seahawks combined. Look for Ryan to feast on that defense. If you think there's a bargain QB out there this week then feel free to trust your instinct, but don't spend more on a quarterback than you'd pay for Ryan in this week's matchup
Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots (DraftKings Salary $4,800)
In the two games Tom Brady has played since returning from suspension Hogan's production has been a mixed batch. Against Cleveland, Hogan caught four passes for 114 yards. The next week against Cincinnati he only caught one pass for 39 yards.
If I were to guess which one of those games is more indicative of future production I would bet on the first one. Despite just the one catch last week, Hogan was on the field for 87.5 percent of the Patriots' offensive snaps. So we're talking about a fast receiver with reliable hands playing almost every single snap with Tom Brady throwing to him against a Pittsburgh defense that's full of holes? I'll take my chances on Hogan's numbers exceeding his price tag.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins, (DraftKings Salary $6,800)
No one has wanted to give the Bills' defense any credit as pass stoppers since Ryan Fitzpatrick lit them up for 374 yards in Week 2. (To be fair, getting lit up by Fitzpatrick is quite the mark against you). But that was the only game all season that Buffalo has allowed a receiver go for over 100 yards. Over the past three games, they've grabbed a lead, and as the only team in the NFL that might have a better rushing offense than the Cowboys, they give their opponents as few plays as possible to make a difference.
Landry is a fine player, but he has Ryan Tannehill throwing to him against a team with a game plan to limit his opportunities.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
(Season Record: 6-0)
(Off the Board: Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs, Redskins, Steelers, Bills,)
Green Bay Packers over Chicago Bears
After taking a troublingly one-sided loss at the hands of the Cowboys, the Packers are getting exactly what they need to temper the 'what's wrong with Aaron Rodgers?' talk: the Chicago Bears coming to town.
The Bears are horrible. They can't score points and they can't stop offenses with explosive weapons. The Packers could have lost 60-16 to the Cowboys and I'd still take Rodgers and his receivers over this Chicago team.